20 September, 2010

Built to spill

Did I miss the memo about today being National Spillage Day?* It's not even 7am yet, on my patch of the earth, and already I've seen two mini-BP events!

The first came when I stopped at Kroger to fill Dorian's tank with gasoline. The woman on the other side of the pump must have negotiating world peace on her iPhone and was distracted, because she didn't bother to shut off the pump before pulling the nozzle out. After hosing down the side of her SUV and the surrounding area with about a pint of premium, she grabbed as many paper towels as she could get her hands on, wiped down the side of her vehicle, and sped off.

And I've been known to get a scolding from a green-minded Californian for topping off!

When I arrived at the office, I shambled to the break room in search of something caffeinated. There I found my buddy George holding a wad of paper towels the size of my head and darting back and forth in front of the counter like a hyperactive hummingbird. I immediately recognized the signs of a coffee pot overflow cleanup effort and grabbed my own wad of paper towels.

So think twice before setting that double mocha latté between your elbow and your keyboard as you begin your day, today. I'm just sayin'.

* I mean, why not? There seems to be National [foo] Day for everything else, right?

05 September, 2010

Unexpected jewels

Earlier this evening, Turtle did me a proper by scooping the cat box and leaving the contents in a plastic grocery bag by the kitchen door. A little later than that, I returned the favor by walking the bag out to the trash cart.

It was dark already, so I strapped an LED light to my forehead and made my way through the back yard and around the side of the house. As I walked, I noticed dozens of tiny emerald green lights sparkling in the grass. I stopped and squatted to take a closer look and was surprised to discover a spider! Then I stopped to look at a few more of the tiny green lights. Same thing.

I never would have guessed that spider eyes would reflect, just like those of dogs, cats, and other much larger creatures. How cool!

But I'm hardly the first to have discovered this phenomenon. When I googled spider eyes reflecting, I quickly discovered that this eye reflectivity is a common attribute of wolf spiders, as described in Wm. H. Amos' “Bright-Eyed Singers” and in the last couple paragraphs of “Recognizing Wolf Spiders” at accessexcellence.org.

21 August, 2010

Humble pie, no Reddi-wip

I recently learned via Turtle that our neighbor across the street is recovering from cancer surgery. Yesterday, when I got home from work, the neighbors were just going in their front door, and from out of the blue came the thought that I should give my neighbor my yellow LiveStrong band as a show of solidarity.

My neighbor and I are not close. He doesn't acknowledge my greetings when we're out in our yards, and his grown children and their families practically live at his house, their vehicles lining the street. But I've learned to go with it, when I get these “random notions”, so I cleaned up the band (which I've been wearing on bike rides for a number of years) and walked it across the street to present it. His wife answered the door and called to him to come downstairs. After a couple minutes he appeared, and I stammered something about the history of the band and how I had made a habit of presenting them to fellow cancer patients and survivors since my own cancer nine years ago. My first yellow band was given to me by a mountain biker who had survived bladder cancer, and I passed that one on to a friend several years ago when she was fighting breast cancer. But I replace them and pass on whatever one I've been wearing.

There's a lesson to be learned from this sort of gesture, though. God encourages us to reach out to others but, I think, He's not so keen on us feeling too proud of ourselves for making them. As reinforcement of this lesson, my neighbor's response to all this was something along the lines of, “Uh… thanks. What's your name again?”

Here's your humble pie, Foo.


I can't explain it, but every time I'm mowing and come to the northeast corner of the fence line in the back yard, the word Germany inexplicably forms in my mind (and sometimes Bismarck). What's up with that?

06 May, 2010

No rest for the wicked

I've had to work some long hours this week, and last night I also dreamed that I had to work really late. In my dream, I was in a high-rise office building, which was mostly dark by the time I got ready to leave. As I stepped off the elevator in the lobby, the only person around was the guy at the security desk, and I could see that it was dark outside. I walked to the car in the pouring rain, turned on the ignition, and pointed Dorian toward the house.

That's when my alarm clock went off, letting me know that it was time to get up and go to work. I feel cheated, like I didn't get to rest at all.

14 April, 2010

20 Questions (less 17)

  1. When a guy at work dresses down a subordinate for checking Facebook on company time and then spends the next forty-five minutes nattering on to his boss about his kid's sports activities, is that an example of irony? Or hypocrisy?
  2. A guy comes into the men's washroom and stands at the urinal. He has earbuds in and his iPod turned up so loud that I can identify the tune even as he talks very loudly (presumedly to hear himself over his tunes) to the guy at the next urinal. Does he deserve a slap to the back of the head? Or a swift kick to the knees?
  3. When I'm out riding my bike in the neighborhood, what scientific basis is there for the phenomenon that causes children to run into my path and fall, hurling their scooters, soccer balls, etc. under my wheel?

Five-second whipsaw

As I started setting up my cubicle for the morning, I noticed I was missing my cell phone. [crap]

Then, I realized it was probably not lost but still in my gym bag [yay!], back at the house. [crap]

But then I remembered that I had loaded my gym bag with clean workout clothes and placed it back in the trunk of my car [yay!]. All I had to do is go back out to the car and get it. [crap]

Of course, I have been eating too many robin's eggs, the the exercise won't hurt me a bit. [yay!]

10 April, 2010

Inking it old school

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with Dad on the phone. Our conversation wandered into genealogy territory (as our conversations often do), which led me to my sharing an anecdote about how Mom used to entertain me by making ink blots with a fountain pen she had when I was little.

“You know, you ought to start writing stuff like that down,” he said. He reminded me of a book he had put together a number of years ago, in which he recorded the sorts of family stories that tend to come up whenever family get together, and challenged me to do something similar.

My favorite fountain pen having a lie down on a bed of my everyday handwriting.

So I got to thinking about the smallish stack of blank books I've purchased over the years (but never used) and how I've been looking for excuses to practice my handwriting and exercise my fountain pens. I set one of the journals and a pen next to my chair in the living room, and when I happen to think of something that happened to me over the years, I jot it down in the journal. A description of the first house I remember, and the neighbors who lived near it. My first bicycles. The neighbor kids. My first job out of college. Life in a small town in Kentucky.

It's not always pretty, what with strike-throughs and handwriting mistakes, and it's generally not as well composed as what I might write and repeatedly edit on the computer. But it's kind of relaxing, and whether anyone will ever read any of it or not, there's now at least 37 pages of the stuff.

13 February, 2010

When self-service isn't

Once again, Valentine's Day lurks around the corner, snickering evilly, knowing that I have failed to come up with any grand romantic gesture to prove my love and pass The Test. Fortunately, My Lovely Bride grades on a curve (or claims to do); but I still like to do something, usually involving roses.

So it was that I ventured out this morning in the wind and freezing fog to Kroger. I was pleased with the timing of my trip, as the level of insanity in the aisles was relatively low. No screaming children. No elderly person ramming me with her Hoveround®. No thuggish individual throwing elbows next to the flower displays. One unsupervised sprog running in circles in the middle of the card section, but I was able to successfully reroute and reach my goal without mishap.

I found what I was after without much deliberation, and as I had only a few items I headed for one of the self-checkout stations. As I started to wave my bar coded flowers across the scanner, a diminutive but quite enthusiastic Indian gentleman appeared in a small puff of smoke and tugged the bethorned stems from my grasp.

"Hey…" I began.

Undeterred, he had my stuff scanned and bagged in the blink of an eye – and probably would have swiped my credit card for me, if I had let him. Next thing I knew, I was half way across the parking lot to my car. That's when I discovered that my genie hadn't put everything in the bag I was carrying.

I dashed back inside and was relieved to find the rest of my stuff still sitting at the check-out. No one tackled me as I picked it up the bag and headed for the door. Mission accomplished.

Next time, I think I'll just go through one of the full-service lanes, where the employees are less helpful.

Crying Fowl

This morning, at the end of this week's obligatory commute to the office, I turned in to the driveway and was accosted by the biggest ho...